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Indonesia's Eurovision connections

Anggun, Dries Holten, Sandra Reemer & Jessica Mauboy

It's the Independence Day of Indonesia and we're marking the occasion by looking at the connections between the country and the Eurovision Song Contest.

Considering the country has the fourth largest population in the world, and has links to European nations through colonial history, it's not surprising that many connections exist.

So let's take a look at the artists who have competed at the Contest:

Anneke Grönloh


Anneke was born in the Dutch East Indies (modern day Indonesia) and spent her early life in a Japanese concentration camp. Her family moved to Eindhoven in The Netherlands after the war.

Her music career took off in the country when she won a talent show in 1959 and she went on to represent The Netherlands at Eurovision in 1964. She finished in 10th place with 'Jij bent mijn leven’ (I Am My Life).

Grönloh died in 2018 at the age of 76.

The Maessen Sisters

1970, 1977, 1982

The Dutch-Indonesian sisters of Bianca, Patricia and Stella Maessen formed a group called Hearts of Soul and they entered the Dutch selection final with ‘Waterman’ in 1970.

As the rules for the Eurovision Song Contest at the time stipulated that groups could not perform, they got around this by nominating Patricia Maessen as the main singer and Bianca and Stella as backing vocalists. They went on to perform at Eurovision on home soil in Amsterdam finishing in 7th place.

Sensing more opportunities in Belgium, the Maessens relocated to Antwerp. Bianca had married Belgian singer Luc Smets and the four of them formed Dream Express. The group were the favourites to win the contest in 1977 with ‘A Million in One, Two, Three’. Their result of 7th place was a surprise to most punters.

Stella Maessen went on to compete at the 1982 contest in Harrogate with the French language song ‘Si tu aimes ma musique’ finishing in an impressive 4th place.

Sandra Reemer

1972, 1976, 1979

Sandra was born in Bandung, Indonesia and migrated with her family to The Netherlands following Indonesia’s independence.

After a successful stint as a child star, Reemer first attempted to make the Contest at the Dutch 1970 national selection but was unsuccessful.

in 1972 she did represent The Netherlands with Andres (fellow Dutch-Indonesian singer Dries Holten) with 'Als het om de liefde gaat’ (When it's All About Love) finishing in 4th.

In the 1976 contest, Sandra Reemer performed as a solo singer with ‘The Party's Over’ finishing in 9th place.

She then went on to form the band Xandra and they finished in 12th place in 1979 with the song ‘Colorado’. Despite its mid-field result, the song went on to chart in several European countries.

Sandra Reemer sadly died of breast cancer in 2017, aged 66.

Justine Pelmelay


Justine was born in Leiden, The Netherlands of Indonesian heritage.

Before competing at Eurovision herself, Pelmelay was a backing singer for 1988 Dutch entrant Gerard Joling. A year later she competed in Lausanne with ‘Blijf zoals je bent’ ('Stay the Way You Are') finishing 15th place.

In 2012, Justine Pelmelay and her former partner survived the Costa Concordia shipping disaster.

Linda Wagenmakers


Linda is a Dutch singer of Indonesian heritage. She began her career aged 21-years-old playing Kim in the musical 'Miss Saigon'.

In the year 2000, Linda won Nationaal Songfestival with 'No Goodbyes' earning her a spot at the Eurovision Song Contest.

She finished 13th in Stockholm but went down in history due to her enormous black and white dress that was hiding two of her backing dancers.

Eric Papalaya

Eric is an Austrian singer of Indonesian heritage. In 2007 he was internally chosen by the Austrian broadcaster to represent the country at Eurovision.

His song 'Get a Life - Get Alive' finished 27th in the semi-final but had a deeper meaning as the official 2007 theme song of the AIDS charity event Life Ball.



Jakarta born, Anggun Cipta Sasmi became a household name in Indonesia in her early teenage years and by the time she was 20 she had released five albums (selling over 4 million copies) and started her own record company.

After relocating to France in 1994 she found more success with her 1997 album ‘Snow on the Sahara’ becoming the best-selling album by an Asian artist outside Asia, released in 33 countries.

In 2012, France Télévisions internally selected Anggun to represent them at Eurovision. Her song ‘Echo (You and I)’ was one of the highly fancied entries but finished in 22nd place (a little harshly treated we think!).

Jessica Mauboy


Most Australians will know Jessica's Indigenous roots as a proud Kuku Yalanji and Wakaman woman.

However, she is also of Indonesian heritage with her father Ferdy originally from West Timor, which is just over 800km from Darwin where Jessica was born.

Indonesia is Australia's second closest neighbour after Papua New Guinea, far closer than New Zealand.

Jessica came to prominence through Australian Idol and went on to have a very successful music and TV career.

In 2014 she performed as an interval act at Eurovision before competing for Australia in 2018 with 'We Got Love' finishing 20th.

Jessica told that she connected to her Indonesian culture through food growing up.

"I also love Indonesian food. Dad is Indonesian-Timorese and Mum is Indigenous, and we grew up learning to cook lots of Indonesian cuisine. I love a fish curry and some of my favourite desserts are a very sweet green cake made from pandan leaves, and a family tradition, gara-susu, which is like a jelly cake, but made from milk, that was always served with coffee," Jessica said.

From an Australian perspective we also want to acknowledge Australia Decides star Seann Miley Moore. Seann was born and raised in Indonesia by his British father and Filipino mother.

So happy Independence Day to all Indonesian Eurovision fans!

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